Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

I saw this recipe in a local paper a few weeks paper and it looked interesting. Noone in our family is gluten intolerant so I rarely make gluten free desserts. But the creators of this recipe, Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, insist noone will guess this is made with quinoa.  I'm always up for a challenge so let's find out if it's true!

Recipe adapted from Quinoa 365 (Whitecap, 2010), Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is often mistakenly believed to be a grain. In fact, it's the fruit of a broadleaf plant meaning it's in the same family as spinach and beets! According to Wikipedia, it  originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for over 6,000 years.

Did you Know?
Quinoa is:
- A complete protein
- Gluten-free
- Contains all eight essential amino acids
- Rich in vitamins E, B2 and B6, folic acid, biotin, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and chloride

Makes two 8-inch round cakes.
2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 packet or teaspoon of Starbucks Via instant coffee (optional)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

What to do:
Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the stove for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with a piece of parchment paper or grease and flour it.

Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla in a blender. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until smooth.

Combine the sugar, cocoa, coffee, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture and combine well. Divide the batter into the 2 pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Switch pans half way through time to ensure even baking.

Cool completely. Enjoy!

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to a month.

Verdict: Well, the cake is good, really good...but (there's always a but) I'm not sure everyone who tastes it would think it's a regular flour cake. They may not know it's quinoa (which is technically what the authors said) but there was a slightly crunchy texture to the cake on the day it was baked. However, by day three the quinoa had definitely softened and tasted much closer in everyway to a regular flour cake.

Overall, the cake is delicious and I will make it again and DEFINITELY make it for anyone who can't tolerate flour.

PS - perhaps if I had blended the quinoa mixture more before baking or hadn't let it cool in the fridge for a few hours before making the recipe the exture would have been different. I'll let you know if the results are different next time I bake it.

pps I added the instant coffee to bump up the chocolate but it was not in the original recipe!


  1. Great recipe! I'll have to keep this in mind when I bake with kids that have allergies! And wonderful pic....I'm drooling!

  2. What a great cake! I know so many people who can't tolerate the gluten in regular flour, so I'm sure that they would appreciate a cake that their bodies and their taste buds could enjoy! I'm very glad I stumbled upon your blog tonight!

  3. I like this recipe that it's gluten free and besides the quinoa, there's not a lot of other "special ingredients" needed. Beautifully presented! :)

  4. i'll pass it along to a friend... and i'm also not gluten intolerant but i'm curious... i may try it, too :)

  5. Unbelievably beautiful and creative. I am SO impressed.

  6. Your cake looks great! Interesting with the quinoa too.

  7. that looks amazing and the presentation is beautiful!


  8. Interesting idea!Incredible chocolate!!!I love chocolate,I have to try this recipe. . .

  9. This looks so cool! I've never heard of quinoa in a cake. I'll definitely be giving this recipe a try!

  10. I am in love with quinoa. It's a wonderful protein for vegetarians to include in their diet - I'm always trying to fit it into different meals somewhere. Now you've given me a way to fit it into my dessert!

  11. Fabulous cake and I love the use of quinoa in it. I am always looking for new ways to cook with it, why not cake!

  12. I just posted a question about adding quinoa in a cake on another website! I wanted to make a cake that had little crunchies in it since my brother can't eat poppyseeds anymore due to diverticulitis. Does the quinoa have that quality in this cake? I make a poppyseed cake with sherry and sour cream which he loves but the poppyseeds bother him. I was going to sub out the quinoa for the poppyseeds but haven't gotten around to trying it yet. Your cake looks delicious!

  13. Hi Diana - quinoa can't be directly sub for poppy seeds - they must be cooked and they are bigger than poppy seeds. However, this cake can have that poppy seed crunchy quality. I actually made this cake last night again and because I blended it for quite awhile so there were significantly less "crunchy" bits! If you this recipe and want those bits blend it so that the texture is still a bit grainy.

    If you do add cooked quinoa to your recipe start with about 1/2 cup but don't blend it. It should have a crunchy texture. Let me know how it goes!!

  14. I'm definitely making this. I have way too much quinoa and don't know what to do with it!

  15. Hi Ceecee,
    The fact that they are bigger would be a plus for my's the small seeds that bother him. Would you advise partial cooking and then adding to the batter for the poppyseed crunch quality? (no blending - just mix in with the batter) At the very least, it's gotta be healthier all the way around!!

  16. I would cook it as directed and see if that is enough crunch!

  17. The batter tasted really yummy. Too bad I am giving both layers away to friends. I will have to make one for myself.

  18. I'm guessing you don't know how much I love Quinoa, but I love it a lot. I'm going to have to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.


  19. This sounds delicious! I love baking with quinoa - I've used it in brownies and quick breads. Instead of cooking the seeds, I rinse them 3 times in cold water (as they have a bitter coating when raw) and then I soak them 6-10 hours in room temperature water. This germinates the seeds - they become even healthier, as well as easy to puree and add to goods. :)

  20. this cake is delicious. Very chocolatey and fudgy! I made it for a friend who is gluten-intolerant and everyone including my picky husband raved over it!! I will be making it for our family often. Use chocolate frosting and put toasted almonds on top......yum!!

  21. This was a perfect dense cake....I put rapsberry jam in between the layers and covered it was ganache. I did not cool the quinoa in the fridge, but let it sit for awhile and then pureed it for a long time; the mixture in the blender became very thick. I did add some instant coffee. Covered it with a ganache with vanilla chocolate looked like a bakery cake....and tasted wonderful.